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Peace rally in Homewood supplants canceled alt-right protest at Google office

| Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, 4:45 p.m.
Sierra Smith, 22, of East Liberty, holds her cousin, Raymir Smith, 3, while marching in the Black Brilliance Collective March and Gathering headed toward Westinghouse Park in Homewood on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Sierra Smith, 22, of East Liberty, holds her cousin, Raymir Smith, 3, while marching in the Black Brilliance Collective March and Gathering headed toward Westinghouse Park in Homewood on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
A group of people, including one with a rifle, stand across from Google's Pittsburgh offices in Bakery Square on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. An alt-right organizer had called for a rally in front of the building but later called it off, fearing the possibility of a confrontation.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
A group of people, including one with a rifle, stand across from Google's Pittsburgh offices in Bakery Square on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017. An alt-right organizer had called for a rally in front of the building but later called it off, fearing the possibility of a confrontation.
Participants in the Black Brilliance Collective March and Gathering head  toward Westinghouse Park in Homewood on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Participants in the Black Brilliance Collective March and Gathering head toward Westinghouse Park in Homewood on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
Participants in the Black Brilliance Collective March and Gathering head toward Westinghouse Park in Homewood on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Participants in the Black Brilliance Collective March and Gathering head toward Westinghouse Park in Homewood on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
Participants in the Black Brilliance Collective March and Gathering head toward Westinghouse Park in Homewood on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.
Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Participants in the Black Brilliance Collective March and Gathering head toward Westinghouse Park in Homewood on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.

More than 300 people marched peacefully in Pittsburgh on Saturday in response to a planned free-speech protest by the alt-right movement of Google offices in Bakery Square.

The marchers walked from North Homewood Avenue to Westinghouse Park, also offering support to those in Pittsburgh's black community.

The march started with a moment of silence to remember those in the community who have been killed.

Brittani Murray, a native of Lincoln-Lemington, and Felicity Williams of Wilkinsburg organized the rally for Black Brilliance Collective even though the alt-right demonstration outside Google's offices in Bakery Square was canceled.

Murray speculated that alt-right organizers looked only for the location of Google's offices, not understanding the nearby neighborhood welcomes all races.

“We want to let the community know we are here,” said Murray, adding that she wanted the march to take away the attention the alt-right group was receiving.

At the same time, a group of protesters were standing across the street from Bakery Square sending their own message to the alt-right activists.

“If these guys show up, we just want to let them know they are not welcomed in Pittsburgh,” said a member of Keystone Anti-Racist Action, who would not give his name.

A small group of people, at least one carrying a flag and another with a semi-automatic rifle, stood quietly nearby, making no effort to confront the marchers.

During the march in Homewood, participants chanted “Black lives, they matter here”; “This is what liberation looks like”; and, in response to a leader's question, “Whose streets?” they answered, “Our streets.”

Westinghouse Park was the ending spot for the march because it's a place that black people don't always get to enjoy because they have police called on them, Murray said.

“We wanted to give them a good time,” Murray said.

After the march, participants were invited to eat there together.

Members of the media were asked to stay outside the park and not talk to participants.

Murray said she was in constant communication with Pittsburgh police about the march preparations. Murray said she hopes that type of communication continues.

“Our main goal is to break bread, enjoy the park, listen to music, dance and have fun,” Williams said.

Murray said she will consider the event a success if black people feel safe in their community and their voices have been heard.

Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805, jspezialetti@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribJimSpez.

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